Turn, Turn, Turn…

The fall always puts me in a little more of a contemplative mood. Autumn *is* change, and it’s historical correlation with a new school year or semester primes me to feel that “times are a ‘changin” mood, despite the fact that it’s been more than 15 years where that’s been true. The girls are changing daily.
The 10 year anniversary of 9/11 was a couple of months ago. I’ll never forget where I was – working in the shadow of an airport, crazy with worry about my brother who worked in Manhattan at the time. During that period of time where we didn’t know how he was, I had felt this overwhelming panicky anxiety. I felt *helpless*, unable to do anything save wait and hit redial, over and over again.
Ten years later. That taste of fear is still what I remember. Not just the ordinary fear for one’s self, but the bitter more acrid fear for someone I love. And now I’m starting to realize that being a parent is having to actively deal with that fear, in small ways and large.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. The climax of the cold war, where Mutually Assured Destruction was almost considered a probability, not just a possibility. A moribund economy which had an inferiority complex to the Japanese. The stock market crash. Acid rain and Ozone holes. AIDS. Famine in Ethiopia.
The world-that-is-now, looking through the eyes of a parent, is even more frightening. Global warming seems relentless. A now 7 billion strong population all aspiring to Western standards of living, which would be unsustainable. I’m convinced that historians will look at this decade and declare it an inflection point in a shifting global geopolitical landscape.
Security, in whatever form that existed, is even more ephemeral than it was. My girls will not have to compete just with their classmates for jobs, they will be competing with ambitious and hungry peers from all over the world, including China, India, and South America. Even a good education is no guarantee – a quick skim of the 99%ers website catalogues the countless college graduates that would be happy with a job at Starbucks. The traditional twin bastions of security – medicine and law – no longer provide the security that they once did.
What’s a parent to do? Panic? (Check!) All I can really do is have faith. Faith that the world is a bountiful place, for those with the ambition, talent perserverance (and yes, a bit of luck) to pick the fruit that’s there. I assume that my parents had to have a similar faith for me and my brother. And as uneasy a time it was, my childhood never seemed particularly scary. That was simply the way the world was, and I knew no different. So I didn’t spend time worrying about those things that I had no control over (Chloroflurocarbons!), I just worried about the things people my age did. SATs. Whether that Ocean Pacific shirt was still cool to wear. (It wasn’t.) Girls I had crushes on. Whether I was too much of a nerd. (I was.)
So, I hope my girls will be the same. *I* worry. I’m now sure my parents did too. I can only do my best to try to make them safe and provide them the tools and skills to figure it out for themselves.
My close friend posted this quote in her facebook this night, and it’s so appropriate I have to share it here:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself…You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
– Kahlil Gilbran, The Prophet
I love this. And while I know that the house of tomorrow is a place I cannot dwell, it provides me immense satisfaction to know that my girls will, no matter what how it’s constructed.

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